Individuals affected by welfare reform will gather tomorrow (Tuesday 5 February) at Holyrood to tell the Scottish Parliament's Welfare Reform Committee about the impact it is having on them and their families.
Marlene Hepburn from Stirling, Lesley McMurchie from Kirkcaldy and Ian Megahy from Hamilton are part of a second panel of witnesses who have contacted the Committee following its 'Your Say' appeal.
Committee Convener Michael McMahon MSP explained:
"It is all too easy for talk of welfare reform to be about numbers or to generalise and stereotype. The reality is it affects individuals with unique circumstances and challenges. From the start, our Committee was clear it wanted to give those affected a voice. Hearing their stories helps demonstrate the impact the policies are having on the vulnerable in our society."
More than 50 people from across Scotland have responded to the Committee’s ‘Your Say’ appeal and on 18 September 2012, the Committee took evidence from three witnesses who had contacted it. Members heard witnesses describe the devastating impact preparing for changes to the welfare system is having on them as they fear losing money they believe they have no way of compensating for.
Deputy Convener Jamie Hepburn MSP said:
" Hearing from witnesses about the fear welfare reform is causing them is never easy. It is so important though that we do hear from them as this policy change is having such a personal impact. It is our duty to then ask the hard questions of those in power about how they propose to solve the problems our witnesses face in their daily lives."
The Committee has also announced its intention to hold an informal meeting in partnership with the Poverty Alliance in Glasgow City Halls on Tuesday 23 April. In this meeting, it will hear from individuals affected by welfare reform.
Convener Michael McMahon added:
"I would encourage the people of Glasgow and the areas around it to get in touch with the Committee to tell us about how they are affected by welfare reform. It is so important to us to hear the first hand from individuals affected and ensure people in positions of power realise the huge personal impact welfare reform is having."
The Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee was established on 25 January 2012. The committee's role is to keep under review the passage of the UK Welfare Reform Act 2012 and monitor its implementation as it affects welfare provision in Scotland and to consider relevant Scottish legislation and other consequential arrangements.
From February to June, the Committee considered the (now enacted) Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill introduced by the Scottish Government on elements of welfare reform stemming from the UK Welfare Reform Act. Since September 2012, the Committee has been looking into specific aspects of welfare reform.
Members of the public can contact the Committee through its ‘Your Say’ appeal by sending information about their experiences to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or by writing to the Committee at the following address:
Welfare Reform Committee